Flames still have playoff hopes heading into final regular-season games

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CALGARY - The final stretch run of the regular season has become do-or-die time for the Calgary Flames.

Four points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Flames have set their sights on winning their last six regular-season games, starting with Wednesday's home game against the Phoenix Coyotes (9:30 p.m. ET).

"We've just got to win our games and keep building," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. "It's that time of year. We've got to find a way to get into the playoffs."

That being said, Iginla admitted that the Flames (38-29-9) have been keeping close tabs on both the Avalanche (41-27-7) and the Los Angeles Kings (42-27-6), who have both been slumping lately.

"We do pay attention especially at this time of the year," Iginla said. "We know momentum's a big part of it and we know we still have an opportunity. Regardless of what those teams are doing we feel we have to approach each game now like a Game 7. We have to win our next game, that's our mindset."

While the Avs have lost five of their past six contests, the Kings are mired in a four-game losing streak heading into Tuesday's road game against the Nashville Predators.

"Those are the teams that we're trying to catch here, and if they stumble, and we win the rest of ours, we're going to catch one of them," said defenceman Ian White. "So keep praying that one of them keeps falling and we keep going.

"We see the stats in the room every day and we're aware of what position we're in."

Like White, fellow Calgary blue-liner Mark Giordano confessed that he's been checking the standings on a daily basis.

"At this point, with six games left, we know what we have to do," Giordano said. "But at the same time, you do some scoreboard watching on the nights you don't play.

"To be honest, it's going to take a little bit of help, but if we take care of our business we can really put some pressure on those two teams and hopefully catch them."

Having suffered through a nine-game losing streak with the Flames in January, defenceman Cory Sarich doesn't have any sympathy for the Avs and Kings.

"Let's just hope they keep streaking," Sarich said. "We had one of our own this year and sometimes they're hard to get out of, so I hope it remains that way. But on the flip side, we have to do everything to try to win every one of these games."

Despite the uphill climb Calgary faces to even qualify for the post season, the Flames remain confident of their chances.

"If we keep doing our business and winning when we have to, we're going to be in the playoffs and that's all we've got to focus on right now," said rookie forward Mikael Backlund.

Following an important 5-3 road victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon, the Flames will be looking to keep up that momentum against the Coyotes (47-23-6), who have already secured a berth in the playoffs.

"They're obviously rolling and have had a great year," Iginla said. "From our point of view, they work hard, they compete hard and they have a lot of energy. You can see they're enjoying themselves, so we have to make sure our compete level is there and just go."

With four wins in their past five games at home in Calgary, the Flames have gained back some of their swagger at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"At home, we've been playing a bit better lately and the fans have given us a boost," said veteran forward Craig Conroy. "They've been loud and it does make a big difference for us. They've been behind us and supportive and we'll need that tomorrow."

To extend their season past April 10, the Flames will also have to rely on teams that they're chasing to keep losing.

"With our situation, we need help elsewhere," said coach Brent Sutter. "That help is almost useless to us unless we take care of our own business. We have to focus in on what the task at hand is and that's the next game coming up. That's our biggest game."

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